Q&A with Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff

©Sebastian Kawka for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix ltd.

Mercedes released a Q&A session with Team Principal Toto Wolff where he talks about his expectations for 2020 and more.

Question: Toto, last year the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team wrote F1 history by winning six consecutive double Championships. What’s next?

Toto Wolff: There’s a great sense of pride within Mercedes that we were able to win last year’s championships and that our tally now adds up to those six consecutive doubles which has never been done before. But at the same time, there’s a lot of scepticism because we know we can’t rely on records from the past. We all start with zero points again this year and we believe that 2020 will be particularly challenging because there will be teams that will put a lot of focus on 2020 and there will be teams that will start to shift their resources into 2021. Getting that balance right will very important, but that’s not an easy thing to do.

Question: What makes finding that balance so difficult?

Toto Wolff: 2020 is an evolution of the current regulations and the gains will be smaller, so you need more time and effort to keep improving your car. On the other hand, the 2021 regulations are so very different that you need to a lot of time to prepare for them. Every month you start later than your competitors will make it more difficult to catch up. You also have the effect of the cost cap which
means that you will have fewer resources available to throw at things in 2021. But our ambition is clear: we want to be competitive in both 2020 and 2021. That is a great challenge, but the greater the challenge, the more we like it.

Question: You’ve been back in the factory since the first week of January. How would you describe the atmosphere?

Toto Wolff: The atmosphere this year is very calm, very focused – we all know that there’s a job to do and results to be delivered in order to meet our own expectations, so we’re working hard to try and prepare in the best way possible. We feel no sense of entitlement to win races or championships, we know that we need to fight extremely hard for that as we had to every year. This has been our mindset from the beginning.

Question: We celebrate our 10th anniversary as a modern-day works team in F1 this year – on 14 March 2010 we competed in Formula One as a Mercedes works team for the first time since 1955. What does that mean for the team?

Toto Wolff: It’s fantastic that the team can celebrate its ten-year anniversary. We made our first come-back to F1 over 25 years ago as an engine supplier and then we went all in a decade ago. It shows our long-term commitment – with our own works team and as a Power Unit supplier to valuable customers. We have been part of Formula One with changing technical regulations, with changes in the Daimler top management, but our commitment to the sport hasn’t changed. It’s great that we get to celebrate our tenth anniversary with the Mercedes works team as one further milestone of this commitment.

Question: 2020 will be the first year after Niki’s passing. What impact does that have on the team?

Toto Wolff: We miss Niki as a friend and as a partner every day. It feels like yesterday since I last spoke to him, even though it’s been over one and a half years that he last came to a race. I’m still missing the words to describe what I feel, he just left a massive void in so many areas.

Question: If you look back at this team’s history, there’s been a great amount of stability in personnel. What does this stability mean for the team?

Toto Wolff: Our team has grown over the last seven or eight years, starting from a very solid foundation that had been laid down by my predecessors. Since then, we have developed the organisation, we have built it to add resources and skill. But I think what has played the most important part in our team’s success are our values – and that’s not something you can just put on a Power Point chart; it’s something that grows over many years and something that needs to be embraced and lived by the people in the organisation. And it’s the bad days where our values and our mindset really help us to make a difference.

Question: What role does sustainability play in Formula One?

Toto Wolff: Sustainability is a very important part of our everyday lives. Climate change is happening and we owe it to our children to tackle that issue. And I believe that Formula One can develop technology that will help make road cars, batteries and combustion engines more efficient for various industrial applications. We have developed Power Units that reach a record level of more than 50 % thermal efficiency today compared to 29% of the V8 engines only 7 years ago. This is real and finds its way into Mercedes road car engines. Formula One is a power formula, but at the same time it’s an efficiency formula.

Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

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